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Winning Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Balkh Province

Winning Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Balkh Province

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Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and by "winning hearts and minds" undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This new case study examines the drivers of insecurity, characteristics of aid projects and aid implementers, and effects of aid projects on the popularity of aid actors and on security in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most peaceful, but which over the last year has seen increasing insecurity. The research confirmed the widespread expressed dissatisfaction with post-2001 development activities, sometimes in contradiction of on-the-ground realities. Respondents ascribed insecurity largely to unemployment and poverty, ethnic factors, and poor governance. Unlike in other study areas, the international military were not described as a major source of instability, most likely due to the lack of conflict to date between the military and communities. While military personnel expressed the belief that development projects could help achieve the limited objective of force protection, most Afghan and international respondents expressed skepticism about the ability of aid projects to reduce insecurity in the long-term.

The findings have implications not just for relatively secure areas, but also more generally for the effectiveness of aid projects as a stabilization tool. This provincial case study is the second of five anticipated case studies, and is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives.

Download the report at https://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=42671653.
Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and by "winning hearts and minds" undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This new case study examines the drivers of insecurity, characteristics of aid projects and aid implementers, and effects of aid projects on the popularity of aid actors and on security in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most peaceful, but which over the last year has seen increasing insecurity. The research confirmed the widespread expressed dissatisfaction with post-2001 development activities, sometimes in contradiction of on-the-ground realities. Respondents ascribed insecurity largely to unemployment and poverty, ethnic factors, and poor governance. Unlike in other study areas, the international military were not described as a major source of instability, most likely due to the lack of conflict to date between the military and communities. While military personnel expressed the belief that development projects could help achieve the limited objective of force protection, most Afghan and international respondents expressed skepticism about the ability of aid projects to reduce insecurity in the long-term.

The findings have implications not just for relatively secure areas, but also more generally for the effectiveness of aid projects as a stabilization tool. This provincial case study is the second of five anticipated case studies, and is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives.

Download the report at https://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=42671653.

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Published by: Feinstein International Center on Nov 10, 2010
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01/05/2013

 
Strengthening the humanity and dignity of people in crisis through knowledge and practice
Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aidand Security in Aghanistan’s Balkh Province
November 2010
Paul Fishstein
 
©2010 Feinstein International Center. All Rights Reserved.Fair use o this copyrighted material includes its use or non-commercial educationalpurposes, such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and newsreporting. Unless otherwise noted, those who wish to reproduce text and image flesrom this publication or such uses may do so without the Feinstein InternationalCenter’s express permission. However, all commercial use o this material and/orreproduction that alters its meaning or intent, without the express permission o theFeinstein International Center, is prohibited.Feinstein International CenterTuts University200 Boston Ave., Suite 4800Medord, MA 02155USAtel: +1 617.627.3423ax: +1 617.627.3428fc.tuts.edu
 
Acknowledgements
The author wishes to thank his research colleagues Ahmad Hakeem(“Shajay”) and Sayed Yaseen Naqshpa or their assistance and insightsas well as companionship in the eld. Gratitude is also due to AntonioGiustozzi, David Manseld, Dipali Mukhopadhyay, David Katz, andAnja Paajanen or their substantive comments and suggestions on adrat version. Additional appreciation goes to David Manseld or hison-going eedback and responsiveness to questions. The author isindebted to Mervyn Patterson or his signicant contribution to thehistorical and background sections. Gratitude also goes to theAghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) and its sta or support during visits to Aghanistan. Thanks go to Joyce Maxwell or her editorial guidance and or helping to clariy unclear passages, andto Bridget Snow or her ecient and patient work on the productiono the nal document. Finally, the author wishes to acknowledgeAndrew Wilder or his overall leadership o the study and or hisspecic guidance and valuable insights on the provincial case study.
Thank you
Funding or the research was provided by the Swedish InternationalDevelopment Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Royal NorwegianMinistry o Foreign Aairs, AusAID, and AREU.
Cover photo
Agricultural aid worker demonstrates new irrigation technology to Aghanarmers. Photo: Author 

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